Address by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of a Sport Match in celebration of the 47th Africa Day: 29 May 2010

Your Excellency, President Bingu wa Mutharika,
Your Excellency, Dr Jean Ping,
CEO of Coca-Cola International,
Ministers here present,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great honour and privilege for me to address this gathering on this momentous 47th Africa Day celebration. We do so in remembrance and recognition of the great strides we, as the people of Africa, have made in carrying forward the spirit and vision of the founding fathers of this great Continent.

On this occasion, we collectively take great pride as hosts of the first ever FIFA World Cup to be held on African soil. There is no doubt that 2010 will go down in the annals of Sport as an unforgettable year - a year when Africa became the theatre of a great sporting tournament. It is indeed a rare privilege that we have the great honour of using this momentous occasion of the beautiful game to promote the Continent.

As we have collectively committed ourselves, we will have to use this tournament, amongst others, as a good forum to build and maintain the elusive peace in some parts of our continent, including using the inertia of the World Cup to propel our continent’s infrastructural development.

In this year of peace and development, we Africans, supported by our friends from across the globe, have to reach out and ensure that all efforts aimed at making the end of this first decade of the twenty-first century – a truly successful storyline. As Africans, we are called upon by our place in history to intensify efforts aimed at achieving lasting peace in every part of our Continent. We believe 2010 will be the year for durable solutions that will bring lasting peace to Africa and its people. 

Fellow Africans,

There is no doubt that this World Cup will be the highlight of the year and excitement is, as expected, building-up – as Africa is getting ready to become the centre of the world’s attention - albeit for only four weeks. In preparation for the World Cup, South Africa has had to invest billions towards the hosting of this memorable event. At the same time, we remain of the view that all the major infrastructure development will become a worth-while legacy for generations to come. We expect the games to leave a lasting legacy of better sporting facilities and information and communication technology that will continue to improve lives long after our last guest has left our shores.

Fellow Africans, we have always viewed the World Cup as a lifetime opportunity to showcase, not only South Africa’s modern infrastructure, but indeed our shared cultural heritage – our music, our dance, our arts and crafts, our humanity and what is more our shared optimism of a prosperous

Since the very beginning of this long and arduous journey, our conviction has been that this has to be an African event – an event of international magnitude - that will help spread confidence and prosperity across the entire continent. As the World Cup event is officially inaugurated on June the 11th, let it also be that it is done in honour of this 47th Africa Day – for Africa Day signifies the birth of a new era of hope and prosperity, as opposed to the evil forces of colonialism, apartheid and backwardness.  As we converge here today, let us commit ourselves to building and maintaining peace on the Continent.
May it be that when we beat our African drums and dance and ululate – that our African ancestors could descend from where they are resting and grace the occasion – making it as peaceful and successful as they would have wanted. The successful hosting of this international event will be a befitting tribute to our fore-bearers who made it their business to instil self-confidence in us.

In his Nobel Lecture that he presented on 11 December 1961, Chief Albert Luthuli cautioned us all on the mistaken Western mythology that argues that “the lowest amongst them (Europeans) is higher than the highest amongst us (Africans)”. Fellow Africans, we should always, and without reservation, remember that our fore-bearers faced the might of the sword and the gun to rescue our own dignity beneath the heels of colonialism and Apartheid.

Let us all use the occasion of this historic event as a befitting dedication to the memories and sacrifices of those perished so that me and you can regain our dignity. As we stand on the crossroads of history, let us remember that every decision we take as Africans under our umbrella body - the African Union - has the power to make or break a peace deal elsewhere in Africa, end a conflict, bring about reconciliation, promote harmony and unite a nation.

I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate all the five African nations plus host, who have qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup – i.e. Cameroon, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa. We want to say it to you in no uncertain terms that you carry the hopes and aspirations of the entire continent – as such, go out there and reclaim your spot in the annals of history. Let us all support our teams as they seek to wrestle the coveted golden trophy, which symbolizes glory and prestige.

Fellow Africans,

The FIFA World Cup process has truly been an African journey of hope and we do pray that our vision for a safer and peaceful Africa is realised. South Africa promised a world class event, and we tell you today, that South Africa has made good on that promise. It will deliver a World Cup, the World will never forget! Hence we argue that - they came from the cradle of humanity, to it shall they return!

Let us welcome all sports lovers - from our continent and abroad – with all the humility and pride that South Africans are renowned for. In extending a typical South African welcome; we can break down stigmas, reach out to brethren in friendship and leave them with fond memories of the Greatest Show on Earth.

Truly - Africa’s time has come, and South Africa is ready!

Thank you!

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